Fade into Fey – Session 1

Lead Up Questions

Before the game started I had no clue what I was going to run. As the players were kicking around playbook options, I was listening as best I could. Goading players into choosing something – anything.

Eventually the table settled on:

  • Kent – the human Dashing Adventurer
  • Gingersnap – the fairy Fae
  • Svell – the gnome Artificer

And I began bombarding them with questions, but what really took was Kent’s player mentioning that he had a map in his starting gear. As it turns out Kent had only recently stolen the map to write a love letter on the back. The love letter was only partially written, and as of yet was not addressed to anyone.

Kent had stolen the map earlier that evening as he and Gingersnap were at the Unseelie-style ball hosted by Lord Arthos. Immediately my mind went to Houses of the Blooded, and I got to thinking that I should read Houses of the Blooded: Wilderness that I bought at GenCon.

Gingersnap simply enjoys traveling with Kent; Life is rarely boring when he both makes mischief and seeks adventure.

Svell was at Lord Arthos’ house on invitation from Alvin, the 60 year old pot boy; Something needed fixing. Alvin acts like he owns Svell.

Actual Play

In the Ballroom

  • Gingersnap is waiting to spring his prank – dumping pigs blood on Lord Arthos’ head
  • The ball was at the sloppy stage…as people were hanging on each other
  • Kent was working to seduce Lady Sarah, the niece of Lord Arthos, asking her to go outside with him
  • Svell spent much of the ball adjusting the trim and fixtures of the ballroom
  • She agreed to go outside with him if he promised not to take advantage of her
  • Lord Arthos announces that he will be leading an expedition to clear more of the Great Forest
  • Gingersnap unleased the pigs blood spilling and splashing on Lord Arthos and Lady Arthos

Blood is Spilled

  • In a drunken rage, Lord Arthos looks for someone to blame…but no one is immediately obvious
  • Kent and Lady Sarah leave for the stone garden
  • Gingersnap was noticed by everyone except Lord and Lady Arthos
  • Gingersnap quickly fled through the servants door
  • In the kitchen Gingersnap was almost spotted by Betsy, one of the kitchen maids
  • Gingersnap quickly used his illusion magic to appear to be a cat messing with the cherry pie
  • The kitchen maids began bickering over the pie and Gingersnap fled outside…looking for Kent
  • Svell looks around and finds that Gingersnap left the ball room through a servants door
  • Following, Svell sees that the kitchen staff is bickering.
  • Svell heads outside
  • Gingersnap, flying about, gets Svell’s attention by dropping a piece of the cherry pie on his head
  • Gingersnap flies over the manor’s roof and sees some odd shadows in the moonlight…ignoring them he approaches Kent
  • Meanwhile, Svell successfully activiates his jump boots launching onto the roof
  • Gingersnap approaches Kent, tongue tied with Lady Sarah, and waits for a moment “Good, now that your mouth is free you should have some pie”
  • They note the shadows and see that someone is going into the third dormer on the roof
  • Gingersnap flies up and sees some elves breaking into the nursery.

Rumble in the Romper Room

  • Svell launches himself to the ledge of the third floor dormer’s open window
  • Kent, looking around spies a rope and rigging that had been used earlier that day to help install a large desk on the third floor (Custom move from the Dashing Hero)
  • With a flick of the wrist, Kent is on the rooftop and the kidnapping elves were none the wiser.
  • Svell attempts to stop the elf egress, but manages to get slammed into the corner
  • Quickly activating his boots one last time, he blasts his assailant into the corner
  • Meanwhile…

No I’ve Got the Baby

  • Kent attempts to cut the baby loose from the bandoleer that was wrapped around one of the elves
  • Kent’s rapier falls to the ground bent and mangled (he rolled an 8 so had to choose between this or the baby sliding down the roof and dangling from the edge)
  • Lord Arthos declares his indebtedness to Kent
  • Lord Arthos invites Kent and Svell to stay at the manor that evening as honored guests

People

  • Lord Arthos, Baron of Deep Forest
  • Lady Katherine Arthos, Baronness of Deep Forest
  • Lady Sarah of house Arthos, niece of Lord Arthos
  • Betsy, kitchen maid at Deep Forest manor
  • Alvin, 60 year old pot boy of Deep Forest manor

What We Learned

  • People are luckier closer to the Great Forest
  • Freshly harvested mistletoe retains magical properties
  • Around 100 years ago, it was common place for humans to have a house gnome
  • The humans have access to ample amounts of lumber
  • Fairy magic is the only magic in the realm
  • Humans are mundane
  • The cities at the heart of the human “empire” are hungry…food doesn’t grow there as easily
  • The wealthy inhabitants of Deep Forest have stone gardens with large obelisks

Possible Fronts

  • The Arthos Family (Baron Arthos, Baroness Katherine Arthos, Sarah Arthos [niece])
  • The Elf Baby Burglars

Outstanding Questions

  • What happens when a fey sheds another fey’s blood?
  • What is the map on the other side of the love letter?
  • On whose behalf were the elves acting?
  • What resides in these empty gnome villages?
  • What do the elves need with the baron’s baby?

Evil Wizards in a Cave by Johnstone Metzger

RK2 Evil Wizards in a Cave by Johnstone Metzger has the tagline “A short adventure module for Dungeon World and Labyrinth Lord“. It provides interesting hooks to a short adventure as well as a regional sandbox to keep the adventures going.

This review is based on an advance copy of the PDF that I requested from Johnstone Metzger.

Minor Spoilers Ahead

I’m trying to keep this adventure review from delving into the adventure contents.
There is a very early move that I quote which may provide more information than you want to know. It ain’t much but some people will do anything to avoid spoilers.

Starting Hooks

I appreciate that Johnstone Metzger gives attention to the adventure hooks. In total, he provides five hooks. Two hooks are about rumors. Three hooks are about being hired for jobs.

Each of the 3 job related hooks describe the employer, and ask you to roll some dice to determine the status of your employment. Below is an example of one of those hooks:

If you were sent by the Church of Law to aid the Tellurine Monastery, roll 2d6+WIS.

  • On a 10+, they have sent a relic-finder with you.
    This is a magical, single-chain thurible that will indicate whether or not a powerful arcane object is located within two miles of the direction you are facing, when you suspend it in front of you with one hand.
    It pulls forward gently if it senses another magical item, but does not indicate its type or nature.
    It must be returned to the church after the helmet is returned to the monastery.
  • On a 7+, the church has also offered you a reward of 500 coins to solve the monastery’s problems.
  • On a miss, this mission is your last chance to atone for your crimes and transgressions.
    If you do not retrieve the helmet, you will be excommunicated permanently.

For those of you coming from Labyrinth Lord, this could be a new structure for a starting hook. For those of you coming from Dungeon World, this is the rather familiar “Love Letter” format seen in the various Apocalypse World Engine games.

I am a particular fan of this opening hook, as both the 10+ and 6- key things up for further adventures.

A Monk’s Life

The Tellurine Monastery is a  , a potential home base for the region. Brief details about its history, industry (beer and cheese), and their current need. We then have fuller details of the monastic fortress and its layout.

Included are maps of the surrounding region, the Tullerine Monastery, and the caves below. And as with any location in an RPG supplement there are a few things going.

I particularly like that each many of the rooms have a paragraph description with an important word or small phrase bolded for ease of scanability.

Provided within a Monk’s Life are a few dual stat characters. These characters each have a rich background, tactics, a Dungeon World stat block, and a Labrynth Lord stat block.

In my opinion, some of the Dungeon World stat blocks are a bit lacking; There could’ve been a few more interesting moves. But compensating for that are the more generic tactics listed beforehand; Afterall this is a dual system adventure. These provide enough to more than easily make a custom GM move on the fly.

Thieving Wizards

As called out in the above move, the church’s helmet is missing;
And the thieving wizards have nefarious plans for it.

The adventure calls out a timeline, but leaves the timing up to the GM to implement. Here I wish Johnstone Metzger would stretch a bit more and give a Dungeon World style breakdown of the danger of letting the timeline slip. Its adequate what is given, but I would have loved to see his take on the danger.

The thieving wizards are given similar treatment as the characters in a Monk’s Life section; background, tactics, Dungeon World stat block, and Labrynth Lord stat blocks.

Following the above details is a brief section on the thieving wizards hideout and corresponding map.

And then comes what I consider to be one of my favorite parts of the adventure.

The Dubious Experiments!

Not to go into too many details, but these thieving wizards haven’t been idle.
There are a handful of monsters, with non-standard backgrounds, each with their own stat blocks.

To the Sandbox

The starting hooks, monk’s life, and thieving wizards sections provide enough for the skeleton for the adventure; A rich sandbox is the backdrop for this adventure. Below are a few interesting, though not too “spoiley” locations in the sandbox.

0105

There is a famous cave located in the hills here, known primarily for the weird stalactites that seem to have faces in them, and the healing waters that drip from them.

0602

There is a cemetery here that belongs to the Palace Plantation.
There is a 1 in 6 chance that a grave contains a gold ring or other small piece of jewellery, worth no more than a dozen coins.

0801

There is an ancient bridge next to the river here, but it is so old that even if it wasn’t broken and crumbling, it would still not span the river, because the river has moved since it was built. The two worn ends both sit on the same side of the river now.

0205

A young man is out taking a walk through the hills the first time the PCs travel through here. His name is Petar Magnusson, and he is a student from Nornfell University. He chanced to see the striking red striations in the hills here, and noticed that there are also holes in the ground about big enough for a person to crawl into. Since his is studying alchemy, geology, and stonecrafting specifically, he is very curious about the strange colouring and would like to know more.

Some of the hexes are significantly more detailed, providing a rough outline for a possible side-trek or further development to the region.

Attribution

As is customary with Johnstone Metzger’s work, he provides a fantastic enumeration of the attribution of art (all public domain), maps (created by Johnstone himself), and game licenses (Creative Commons for Dungeon World and the Labrynth Lord Trademark License 1.2).

All of the font’s are available under the SIL Open Font License.

And best of all, Johnstone Metzger release the text of this adventure under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

To Buy or Not to Buy

Buy this adventure if you enjoy a human(oid) centric adventure involving some mystery and social interactions; Or if you enjoy a sandbox adventure. Also consider buying this if you are interested in seeing how you might bridge your other written adventures from one system to another.

Don’t buy it if you want a dungeon crawl. While there are caves and dungeons these are not exhaustive but instead small areas for exploration. Don’t buy if you are looking for high flying fantastic adventure with loads of monsters and piles of treasure.

Dashing Hero by Jacob Randolph

We’ve had problems getting campaigns going. We’ll have about 2 sessions and then they falter – most often due to scheduling.

Last week, we started up another campaign and one of my veteran players was looking longingly at the Dashing Hero playbook by Jacob Randolph.He was hesitant to pick it. When asked about the hesitation he responded “I’m saving it.”

The Dashing Hero gives the player so many tools to dive into the adventure, with a focus on getting the Dashing Hero into the action. The other players, each of whom had characters with flight, were wondering how the Dashing Hero would quickly get from the ground up to the third floor.

And while they were wondering, our Dashing Hero simply laughed with confidence as he laid out a Plan of Action – a large desk had been installed in the nearby third-floor dormer, and the rigging was still there. With the flip of his rapier, the Dashing Hero was on the rooftop and ready to deal with the kidnappers.

While some may find these abilities to make such sweeping declarations overly powerful, I welcomed it. The session became richer as I got to thinking “Now why would the lord install a desk today…” This was a detail that never would’ve surfaced without handing more narrative control to the players.